20 May 2003

Divers angry over disappearance of sharks in Marshalls

7:12 am on 20 May 2003

Scuba dive operators in Marshall Islands are accusing a Majuro-based shark fishing company of illegal fishing around two inhabited atolls.

They say the activity is decimating the shark population and hurting tourism.

The atolls complaining about the inshore fishing are Bikini and Jaluit.

A local businessman, Kenneth Kramer, said previously divers found Jaluit a prime diving site, but they were cancelling tours to the atoll because the shark population, one of the prime attractions, has declined dramatically.

A divemaster from Bikini Atoll said he had noticed a dramatic drop in the population of gray reef sharks at Shark Pass.

One of the fishing companies involved in the complaints said his boats have not been fishing near the atolls.

The general manager of Edgewater Fisheries, Jimmy Ng, said not only was it illegal to fish inside the 20 kilometre zone, but his company was only interested in ocean sharks, not those found near reefs.